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American of Martinsville

American of Martinsville is today revered as one of the finest manufacturers of mid-century modern furniture in the United States, but its beginnings were unexpectedly humble.

Well ahead of the Civil War, tobacco was a cash crop in places such as Virginia, and the plant was grown with frequency on farms in Martinsville and elsewhere. In the early 1900s, the business around tobacco was changing and the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company was expanding nationally, buying any Virginia factories in reach. Former tobacco producers Ancil Witten and Charles Keesee turned away from the business in 1906 and, with merely $30,000 in capital (and the support of local business leaders), began to manufacture bedroom furniture under the name American Furniture Company.

In the 1920s, American Furniture Company expanded its offerings from bedroom furnishings. Alongside tallboy dressers and nightstands, Witten and Keesee’s outfit began to offer a range of dining-room sets to the discerning customer. By the 1950s, the name had been changed to American of Martinsville and the brand had gained a reputation for exquisite craftsmanship as well as its variety of furniture styles (Hollywood Regency, chinoiserie). Mass-marketed furniture meant big business in the postwar years and throughout the 20th century in Virginia, and factories owned by companies like Bassett Furniture and American of Martinsville remained busy as suburbanites bought furniture to fill the homes they were moving into.

It isn’t difficult to spot American of Martinsville’s sturdy, solid designs — the lacquered walnut nightstands, mahogany coffee tables and more have long earned the admiration of mid-century modernism enthusiasts. The company’s high profile also owes to prominent attributes that distinguish its well-made vintage furniture, such as the use of wooden slats — inspired by Scandinavian modernism — on hutches and cabinet doors, the famous brass x’s inlaid on the tops of tables and dressers and the stately stacked type of the American of Martinsville logo, which usually appears in drawer interiors. The stamp prominently features an eagle perched atop the lettering, its broad wings spread across the “American” portion.

Besides quality manufacturing, American of Martinsville is additionally recognized for having incorporated the trends of the day. Inspired by designers like George Nakashima and Paul Laszlo, the brand was also known for innovations with wood. Merton Gershun was one of the company’s most prolific designers, and he was responsible for some of its most successful modern furniture lines using the richer, darker woods that would become emblematic of mid-century furniture. Gershun’s most popular line was reportedly Dania, with its sleek walnut credenzas fitted with stylish brass accents and large drawers. Today, American of Martinsville specializes in furniture for the healthcare and hospitality industries.

Shop a wide selection of vintage American of Martinsville mid-century modern sideboards, side tables and more on 1stDibs.

Average Sold Price
$2,251
Styles
Materials
Related Creators
Vintage American of Martinsville Walnut Nightstands with Leather & Brass Accents
By American of Martinsville
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Step back into the stylish era of the 1960s with this exceptional pair of American of Martinsville nightstands, masterfully hand-crafted from walnut wood and brought back to life wit...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage American of Martinsville

Materials

Brass

Restored American of Martinsville 6 Drawer Chest- Pair Available
By American of Martinsville
Located in Atlanta, GA
An exquisite example from a rare series by American of Martinsville, circa 1960. Stout, expertly made mahogany case construction restored in cream lacquer. Fabulous, chunky solid bra...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage American of Martinsville

Materials

Brass

Rare Walnut Queen Headboard by American of Martinsville from Accord Collection
By American of Martinsville
Located in Cincinnati, OH
A dark walnut queen sized headboard with built in nightstands having one drawer to each and double sliding caned doors to the center with a storage area . Designed by Merton Gershun ...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern American of Martinsville

Materials

Walnut

American of Martinsville Nightstand
By American of Martinsville
Located in Brooklyn, NY
This beautiful walnut nightstand by American of Martinsville features the sturdy construction and fantastic wood grain the midcentury manufactu...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage American of Martinsville

Materials

Walnut

American of Martinsville Nightstand
American of Martinsville Nightstand
H 23 in W 22 in D 16.5 in
Dramatic Restored Nine-Drawer Chest by American of Martinsville, circa 1950
By American of Martinsville
Located in Atlanta, GA
A beautiful example from a rare series by American of Martinsville, circa 1950. Stout, expertly made mahogany case construction finished in cream lacquer. Fabulous wormhole detail on...
Category

1950s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage American of Martinsville

Materials

Mahogany

Stylish Pair of American of Martinsville Walnut Nightstands Mid-Century Modern
By American of Martinsville
Located in Pemberton, NJ
Great looking pair of American of Martinsville walnut nightstands. These stylish nightstands have a great flip down door opening to reveal a nice open space with on small drawer. The...
Category

1960s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage American of Martinsville

Materials

Brass

Mid-Century Modern American of Martinsville 9-Drawer Dresser
By American of Martinsville
Located in Clarksboro, NJ
This listing is for a Mid-Century Modern American of Martinsville Dresser. Featuring a straight line design, brutalist front, door on the left that opens up to three hidden drawers, ...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern American of Martinsville

Materials

Wood, Walnut

Mid-Century Modern American of Martinsville Walnut Nightstands - Set of 2
By American of Martinsville
Located in Clarksboro, NJ
This listing is for a pair of Mid-Century Modern American of Martinsville Walnut Nightstands. Featuring a straight line design, brutalist front design, two drawers for storage, moder...
Category

Mid-20th Century American Mid-Century Modern American of Martinsville

Materials

Wood, Walnut

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American Of Martinsville furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

American of Martinsville furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of wood and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of American of Martinsville furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. Many of the original furniture by American of Martinsville were created in the mid-century modern style in north america during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by John Widdicomb, Planner Group, and John Stuart. Prices for American of Martinsville furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $322 and can go as high as $39,500, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $2,348.
Questions About American of Martinsville
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 22, 2021
    American of Martinsville, which was founded in 1906, is still in business. The company now manufactures furniture for hotel and healthcare industries.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 7, 2024
    How much an American of Martinsville dresser weighs can vary greatly. The dimensions and materials of the piece will determine its weight. Generally, highboy dressers will be the heaviest pieces produced by the American furniture maker due to their size. Shop a diverse assortment of American of Martinsville dressers on 1stDibs.
  • 1stDibs ExpertMay 14, 2024
    The history of Martinsville furniture starts with the founding of the company in Martinsville, Virginia, in 1906 by Ancil Witten and Charles Keesee, a pair of former tobacco farmers. They launched their business with $30,000 in capital and began to manufacture bedroom furniture under the name American Furniture Company. In the 1920s, American Furniture Company expanded its offerings from bedroom furnishings with a range of dining room sets. By the 1950s, the company’s name had been changed to American of Martinsville, and it had gained a reputation for exquisite craftsmanship as well as a variety of furniture styles. Inspired by designers like George Nakashima and Paul László, the brand innovated with wood. Merton Gershun was one of the company's most prolific designers, and he was responsible for some of its most successful modern furniture lines using the richer, darker woods that would become emblematic of mid-century furniture. Gershun's most popular line was Dania, with its sleek walnut credenzas fitted with stylish brass accents and large drawers. Today, American of Martinsville specializes in furniture for the healthcare and hospitality industries. Find a variety of American of Martinsville furniture on 1stDibs.
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    With respect to the actual wood, the outer layer of American walnut — the sapwood — has a creamy yellow-white color whereas the inner layer — the heartwood — ranges from a golden brown to dark chocolate brown color. In more descriptive words, the color of American walnut embodies the richness of chocolate mixed with slight undertones of red wine. On 1stDibs, find a variety of antique and vintage American walnut furniture.
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